Egypt court postpones Suez ship hearing for more compensation talks

An Egypt court on Saturday adjourned a case on the container ship that blocked the Suez Canal to allow for more time to negotiate for a compensation.

The court in Ismailia town postponed the hearing to June 20 after requests from lawyers representing the Suez Canal Authority and the owner of the 400-meter-long Ever Given.

The authority was claiming more than more than $916 million in damages linked to the waterway’s six-day closure in March, which roiled shipping markets. But it lowered the figure in out-of-court negotiations to $550 million, saying it has miscalculated the value of the cargoes aboard of the ship. The vessel’s insurers said the demand is still too high.

“There are endeavors to reach a settlement and because they are good clients, we are asking the court to postpone to negotiate and study the offer submitted by the owners, Nabil Zidan, the lawyer for the Suez Canal Authority, said in the court.

“Negotiations are on and there’s flexibility from both sides, said Ahmed Abu Shanab, the ship owner’s lawyer.

Ahead of the hearing on Sunday, Zidan said the Suez Canal Authority will recalculate its claim, without elaborating on what that means for the lawsuit or what the new figure will be.

The Ever Given’s owner has previously offered to pay $150 million, according to the authority, which says that doesn’t cover losses of transit fees, damage to the waterway and costs of equipment and labor.

The Ever Given is owned by Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd. and was freed on March 29 after a salvage operation and sailed to the Great Bitter Lake, about halfway along the canal, where it has been kept ever since.

About 50 ships a day pass through the Suez canal, which can cut a voyage between Europe and Asia by two weeks. More than 400 vessels were held up by the blockage, though most were able to pass through the channel soon after it was reopened. Egypt in May started dredging to widen the southern end of the canal where the Ever Given got stuck.

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